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AT&T Working on New iPhone Contract

AT&T has been Apple's exclusive partner for the iPhone in the U.S. since the device was first released, and the cell carrier is hoping to keep its exclusive deal past 2010. The agreement the two companies struck before the iPhone was launched expires next year, putting AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson on the move to swing a new exclusive deal that runs at least through 2011, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Landing a new exclusive deal with Apple would likely be a big win for AT&T. The carrier added 4.3 million iPhone customers in the second half of 2008, and about 40 percent of those were new to AT&T -- substantial numbers, especially since the company is pushing its wireless services over its traditional land line services.

Mr. Stephenson isn't talking about the terms of AT&T's deal with Apple, or about the current negotiations. Apple is equally tight-lipped, although a company spokesperson did comment "We have a great relationship with AT&T."


7 comments from the community.

You can post your own below.

breeze said:

No matter what happens, both Apple and ATT have said they will start offering unlocked (unsubsidized) phones soon (if not already).

So whether ATT and Apple “extend” their exclusivity, or not, whoever buys an unlocked phone will be able to pick their carrier of choice…

Most likely ATT is seeking some kind of deal that gives them exclusivity on subsidy rights.

Possibly even on another (?) Apple wireless product…


vasic said:

Apparently, we are discussing the US (many countries are already legally selling unlocked iPhone for the equivalent of about $700+). The unlocked iPhone would mean almost nothing for the US market. The only other carrier one could take it to would be T-Mobile (trying to say that without laughing…).

So, the only OTHER reason one would want an unlocked, contract-free iPhone is to use it on a cheaper AT&T plan (Go Phone, cheaper data rates, etc). AT&T can’t know what you’re doing with your SIM card. If you take it from your cheapo ($0 after rebate) Nokia and stick it into an unlocked phone, you don’t have to start paying $30 per month for the iPhone data plan. You are obviously not going to use Safari, YouTube, Mail or similar (otherwise, your data charges would end up over $100), but for occasional quick look-up, when no WiFi is available, you might save some money.


B9bot said:

I think Apple should be done with exclusive deals. The iPhone has proven itself to be the number one smart phone. The other carriers should now sell it to improve sales and to see if an exclusive deal with any of the other carriers might prove to be a better option. Service is the main concern since sales are easy, service is hard after the sale. AT&T like the rest do poorly with customer service.

Let the best carrier in sales and service possibly win a future exclusive deal would be the way to go if I were Apple.

For now, NO more exclusive deals for AT&T. It’s time to spread the sales with all carriers so customers have a choice and also coverage for there areas.


vasic said:

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Once everyone can sell it, nobody will make an effort to make any special considerations for it. AT&T bent over backwards for Apple and continues to do so because of exclusivity that brings many switchers. Now that the contract is up for re-negotiation, Apple should squeeze a few more concessions from AT&T (lower data plans, free tethering, a few free text messages with the cheapest plan, etc). Apple clearly has an upper hand in this position and it can use it to get what it never would if it were to give the iPhone away to any and all carriers.


azarkon said:

I have to disagree with Vasic.  The iPhone is not just any phone, and it will still get consumers because it is an apple product and in many ways it is the leader of the pack when it comes to smartphones.  With multiple carriers carrying the iPhone, I think you would clearly see competition on pricing and features for the device which would be good for us?and we know that there are people who’ve passed on an iPhone to keep better coverage with verizon or another competitor.  Dropping exclusivity will bring the device to more people, and we shouldn’t lump the device into the same category of every other cellphone and every other company.  RIM’s phones sell on most carriers, and their products are doing fine.


psmacintosh said:

Oh, no, no, no, no, no!
Please, Apple, don’t renew your exclusive contract deals with AT&T!

Instead make your cell phones work with ANY and ALL cell carrier systems.
Just make the iPhone so that the different cell chips can be added.

Just make it so that people can use whatever broadband capability their particular cell carrier can provide (3G or whatever) and let them “accept” it or move to another carrier.

Just let people choose whether they want to pay for broadband service (in order to use all the features that iPhone could give them) or not.  Some people just want very basic cell phone usage.
But want to be able to sync all their data from their Apple Mac to their Apple cell phone.

Give us back the CHOICE for how WE want to use your products in our lives.

Make money on your product itself…..and quit making money off your exclusive deals with only certain carriers (that effectively cuts off your product from working with 2/3rds of the rest of the people on cell phones).

Make a product for the WORLD.
Make the world a better place.



vasic said:

I’m pretty sure nowhere near 20 million people would have bought the iPhone had it been unlocked, unsibsidised, at full $700+ price. And therefore, nowhere near as many developers would have been interested in developing for a platform that only has a few hundred thousand users. How many here would be willing to pay the price of a refurbished MacBook for a cellphone? Even iPhone?

Your CHOICE is in no way hindered here. And that choice is a heavily subsidised iPhone (a refurbished 3G model can be had for $100 plus 2-year plan), tied to a 2-year contract with a (soon to be again) largest carrier in the US, or if you don’t like that, any competitor will gladly sell you (at $0 after some rebates, with 2-year contract) their own touch-screen phone offerings, with built-in web browsers, e-mail, media players, etc.

There are a few countries in the world that have laws in place that prohibit exclusive agreements between carriers and handset manufacturers. In those, iPhone is available on multiple networks, with or without subsidy (at 600 EUR—equivaltent of US$800). In the US, however, government tends to let markets sort these things out, so therefore, if you want iPhone, there’s AT&T. I for one would really hope Apple uses their contract expiration leverage and renews the exclusive with AT&T after extracting a few more concessions. I don’t have any issues with AT&T, nor do majority of current iPhone users (or any other AT&T phone users). It is, after all, the carrier with the largest GSM coverage in the US, and one of the largest national GSM carriers in the world (can’t count Vodafone, or T-Mobile, if you can’t roam between countries without extra charges).

So, from my own perspective, I’m looking forward to another multi-year exclusive agreement with AT&T.


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